The Miami Dolphins take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later tonight in the third week of the NFL's Preseason. This game will serve as the dress rehearsal game for both teams, giving us the best look at the Dolphins we will see prior to Week 1 at the Cleveland Browns. While trying to tune the offense and defense for the regular season is priority number one tonight, there are still several positions that are not settled for the Dolphins.
Tonight could go a long way to deciding who will win these position battles.
All preseason, the top position battle has belonged to the offensive line, while tight end/fullback was lower on the list. The injury to Dustin Keller last week changes that. The Dolphins were clearly planning on using Keller as a major part of the offense, and, while no one on the roster will be able to step up and seamlessly perform like Keller, someone has to step up and take over the starting tight end role. Charles Clay seems to be in position to at least get the first shot at the role, but don't be surprised to see Dion Sims and Michael Egnew get more playing time tonight as the Dolphins try to rework the position.
This one could actually be solved if John Jerry plays like a starting right guard. The Dolphins have thrown a lot of players into the position, including Josh Samuda, Nate Garner, Richie Incognito, and Mike Pouncey, but Jerry in that spot (along with Incognito at left guard and Pouncey at center) makes the most sense at this point. Lance Louis will be give a shot to win the job as well, but Jerry has to be considered the favorite.
This may be a position battle in name only, with everything about the way the team is using Lamar Miller saying the team sees him as the starting, feature back. However, Daniel Thomas is doing everything he can to keep this a battle. Thomas has been running hard and blocking well. Will it be enough to unseat Miller at the top of the depth chart?
The Dolphins seem set at the starting cornerback position with Brent Grimes and Dimitri Patterson. However, after the release of Richard Marshall this week, the nickel back position and reserve slots are wide open. Will Nolan Carroll, who has been playing on the boundary when Patterson moves inside, keep that third slot? Will Jamar Taylor and Will Davis be able to hold down the fourth and fifth position?
How many defensive linemen can the Dolphins afford to keep in 2013? The line is so deep, they are going to be forced to cut someone with talent. Kheeston Randall and A.J. Francis are both looking to hang on to the roster behind Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai, and Randy Starks. Can Miami have five defensive tackles? If both Randall and Francis continue to play like they have been, the Dolphins may have to find a way to keep both.
The Dolphins and Buccaneers kick off at 7:30pm ET tonight. The Dolphins have already begun making their roster cuts ahead of Tuesday's 4pm ET deadline, but have to go from 84 players to 75 by then. The 53-man roster cuts are due August 31 at 6pm ET, after the team's final preseason game against the New Orleans Saints.
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